The Marine Drone: An Autonomous Aquatic Trash Collector

If we’re going to clean up the ocean, we’re going to need some robotic help. These floating trash suckers might just do the trick.

The ocean is a vast place. And while we humans have managed to fill a lot of that vastness with garbage, it’s still large enough that cleaning it up would take an incalculable amount of man hours. If only we had some sort of mechanical slave to do our work for us.

That’s the idea behind the Marine Drone, a concept project from Elie.Ahovi industrial design. Following in the footsteps of other robots built to scour the sea tirelessly (like these exploration robots powered by waves and this fleet of drones with absorbent tails to clean up oil spills), the Marine Drone is designed to swim around and do something about all the plastic filling our waters.

The Marine Drone is just a giant basket that is dragged through the water by three battery-powered propellers. As it moves, the basket slowly fills up with trash. The drones—which coordinate with each other via sonar—return to a central location when they’re full, and their haul of plastic is loaded onto a ship for recycling.

Won’t these giant nets also catch a lot of fish? Elie.Ahovi says that the drones would emit noise to scare fish away. But it’s not a real concern yet, as the project is just a concept. But we’re going to have to deal with all that ocean trash soon, and better robots than us.

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  • Arman Nobari

     Check this Co.Exist article... 

    To say something "cant be recycled" or "shouldnt be recycled" is a bit vapid. Even if it is toxic, expensive to recycle, and difficult to gather - a way to gather all of it into a manageable clump is, in my opinion, way better than letting it float wherever the current takes it. That way there's a basis to developing improved recycling methods that handle the toxins, such as Ocean PCR, from that article. They mention that "there's too much waste in the Pacific for Method to clean up on their own" - but for a small fleet of trash collecting drones? I can see that being a hard-fought reality.

  • TopCat

    My understanding is that most of the plastic waste in the oceans is toxic and can't, or shouldn't, be recycled. We have a better idea.